John Mellencamp

photo by Prphotos

Birth Name: John J. Mellencamp

Place of Birth: Seymour, Indiana, U.S.

Date of Birth: October 7, 1951

Ethnicity: German, Scottish, English, Scots-Irish/Northern Irish, Irish, Welsh, French, remote Belgian/Flemish

John Mellencamp is an American singer, songwriter, musician, painter, and actor. He works in the genre of heartland rock. He is also known as Johnny Cougar, John Cougar, and John Cougar Mellencamp.

John is the son of Marilyn Joyce and Richard Lee Mellencamp. He has a daughter with his former wife Priscilla Esterline; two children with his former wife Victoria Granucci; and two children with his former wife, model Elainre Irwin.

John has stated that his great-grandmother was black, and married to one of his German immigrant ancestors. It is not clear if this is accurate. He may have been referring to his paternal great-great-grandmother Martha Felmet/Phemlot, who is listed as “white” on at least some records, but could have had black ancestry.

John’s paternal grandfather was Harry Perry Mellencamp (the son of Johann/John Herman/Henry Louis Mellencamp/Mollenkamp/Melloncamp and Caroline/Carolyn “Carrie” Mary Mackey). Harry was born in Indiana. John’s great-grandfather Johann was born in Columbus, Indiana, to German parents, from Enger, Germany, Johann/John Herman Friedrich/Louis Mellencamp/Mollenkamp and Anna Maria Bramsche. Caroline was the daughter of John Henry Mackey, who was German, and of Anna Maria Angelica Munte, who was likely of German descent as well.

John’s paternal grandmother was Laura L. Noblitt (the daughter of John Franklin Noblitt and Martha Ella/Ellen Ehlers/Ellers/Ellerson/Ellis). Laura was born in Indiana. John’s great-grandfather John Noblitt was the son of Joel Vandeveer Noblitt and Elizabeth Codey McCalister/McCallister, and had Irish, French, English, Scottish, and Belgian [Flemish] ancestry. Martha was the daughter of Frederick James Ehlers, who was German, from Prussia, and of Martha Felmet/Phemlot, who was from North Carolina or Kentucky.

John’s maternal grandfather was Joseph Harrell Lowe (the son of Joseph Heber Lowe and Mary Louisa Belnap). John’s grandfather Joseph was born in Ohio. John’s great-grandfather Joseph was born in Franklin, Idaho, to Scottish parents, Thomas Lowe and Eliza Galloway. Mary Louisa was the daughter of Gilbert Rosel Belnap, who was Canadian, and of Adaline Knight, and had English, and some Scots-Irish/Northern Irish, ancestry.

John’s maternal grandmother was Bessie E. Lowry (the daughter of Charles Clinton Lowry and Cora Ethel Whitsett). Bessie was born in Indiana, and had Scots-Irish/Northern Irish, Welsh, and English, ancestry. Charles was the son of John Alvin Lowry and Martha Ellen Whitsitt. Cora was the daughter of Thomas Jefferson Whitsett and Hannah Margaret Morrison.

Sources: Genealogies of John Mellencamp –

Genealogy of John’s paternal grandmother, Laura L. Noblitt –

John’s paternal grandmother, Laura L. Noblitt, on the 1910 U.S. Census –
Laura L. Noblitt on the 1920 U.S. Census –

John’s paternal great-grandmother, Martha Ella/Ellen Ehlers/Ellers/Ellerson/Ellis, on the 1870 U.S. Census –

Genealogies of John’s maternal great-grandmother, Mary Louisa Belnap –

Genealogy of John’s maternal great-grandfather, Charles Clinton Lowry –

Genealogy of John’s maternal great-great-grandfather, Thomas Jefferson Whitsett (focusing on his own father’s side) –

16 Responses

  1. jonasbsjr says:

    Great american singer! He is very underrated. Also there’s no way he has recent black ancestry, he looks very standard western euro to me, what he said about his relatives must be just another one of those family myths that gets past on over generations, its the same case with many white americans saying they are ”part native”…

    • Oaken05 says:

      It’s not really like that, at all. White Americans are much, much less likely to publicly want to claim any black ancestry given the implications of that. Conversely, most Americans want to claim indigenous ancestry as they think it connects them closer to territory they colonized.

      • jackson9 says:

        I don’t know. since DNA test have become so popular in America amongst pretty much all races people have been embracing their results including whites with distant black/Sub-Saharan African. I didn’t have any but I would embrace it if I did like many do.

        • Oaken05 says:

          It’s certainly gotten better in recent years, but it is not at all yet like Americans who find they have Native American ancestry. That’s something proudly held, universally, across all kinds of ethnic, racial, social and political lines in this country, and has been for a few centuries.

          I’ve had family members reading to doubt the validity of their entire results when indigenous ancestry didn’t come back in the number they assumed it would or didn’t come back, at all.

          Anyway, while he likely doesn’t have any; I would also not be at all surprised if he had one black or mixed-race great-grandparent. That;s far enough back that it is not at all unusual for that not to really show up on your phenotype.

  2. ashash says:

    John Mellencamp claims his great-grandmother is black in this interview with Howard Stern. It is at 50:17.

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